Monday, November 24, 2008

Finishing touches: Children and Independence

Pretty soon most kids will want to do things on their own, and from that they achieve an incredible sense of accomplishment and pride. Whenever Mikey wants to do something on his own, like pick out his clothing, make his own snack, or buckle himself in his car seat, I usually let him. Sometimes I end up having to help him (like with the car seat buckle,) but I only jump in to help after he is done attempting it on his own and is frustrated enough to ask for help.

Then there are times when I can't possibly let him leave the house without the threat of a visit from social services. Like when he insists on brushing his hair.

This right here? This is what he calls perfection. He doesn't see the fact his hair is plastered flat from the water in the spray bottle only in the middle of his head. He is blind to the two cowlicks that stick out like devil horns. He doesn't see the rat's nest that is the back of his head.

All he knows is he did it by himself and he looks hottt. "Mama. Did you see how handsome I look?" So I let him brush his hair. But, I've also developed a strategy that allows him to wield the brush of independence without him leaving the house looking like a ragamuffin. Mikey brushes his own hair every morning. In his pajamas. Then, we get dressed for the day.

Now, as often happens when you are taking off pajamas and putting on shirts, his perfectly coiffed hair will get tousled. Bummer. That's when I come in and try to repair his work.

Mikey: "But, mama! I already brushed my hair. Remember how handsome I am?"

Jules: "Of course! But while we you were changing your hair went a little crazy. I'm just putting on the finishing touches."

So now, every morning I put on the "finishing touches." Is it duplicitous? Maybe. However, I doubt years from now Mikey will lament from his spot on the therapist's couch that I never let him leave the house with messy hair. The way I look at it, Mikey feels like he is doing something on his own and I don't look like a neglectful parent. Everyone is a winner. Especially me, because even with tornado hair, I still think he is a bowl of sugar.